Auckland has a unique opportunity to create an "environment of innovation" at Wynyard Quarter, says Sir Peter Gluckman, who last night opened the offices of the first technology company to move to the area.

The Prime Minister's chief science adviser spoke at the launch of 3D software-firm Nextspace's new premises.

Nextspace is the first firm of its type to open up shop in Wynyard Quarter, which the Auckland Council and the Government plan to turn into a high-tech mecca.

The proposal for the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct - which Waterfront Auckland chairman Bob Harvey said could become a "mini Silicon Valley" - was announced in October last year.


Waterfront Auckland said yesterday the business case for the precinct was still being prepared and was due for release at the end of April.

Gluckman said the project was a critical step in driving innovation in Auckland.

"It is not possible to imagine any way New Zealand can succeed in a world where knowledge-driven innovation will be the major source of economic growth unless a real innovation ecosystem develops in Auckland," Gluckman said.

However, Gluckman said an innovation step-change required changes in attitude from both the public and private sector.

"We are seeing [this] starting to appear.

"The reconstruction of central ministries has started, Auckland City has started to put real effort behind the concept and today we see one example of the private sector responding."

Nextspace chief executive Gavin Lennox said the move into Wynyard Quarter offered the firm the chance to be closer to clients as it grew and gained traction in the market.

Nextspace has been developing software since 2007 but its latest focus has been on Visual City, which allows users to make virtual models of city spaces.

Visual City pulls together data such as maps, plans, resource consents, building models, transport routes and photographs and presents them over an interactive 3D map.

The application has been used by the Auckland Council to communicate proposals in its spatial plan and Melbourne's South East Water is also using the platform to reduce the cost of building a new sewer system.